Russia may have suffered a number of humiliating setbacks during its year-long war in Ukraine, but they seem to have made little impact on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resolve to achieve his war aims.
The Russian leader’s determination to press ahead with what the Kremlin calls Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine was very much in evidence when he addressed this year’s Victory Day Parade, which is held to commemorate Russia’s victory in the Second World War.
Normally, the parade is used as an opportunity by the Kremlin to stage a massive show of Russian military strength, with the latest Russian weaponry on display as thousands of well-trained troops parade through Red Square.
This year’s event, by contrast, had been dramatically scaled down, with a single T-34 tank — a relic of the war against Nazi Germany in the 1940s —the only piece of heavy armour on show leading the parade.
On previous occasions the Soviet-era tank has been accompanied by more modern fighting machines. But while some heavy armour was on view, it was at a much reduced level, with just 51 vehicles taking part in this year’s event compared with 131 last year and 197 in 2021.
With the Russian military reported to have suffered significant losses on the battlefield in Ukraine — both in terms of men and equipment — the Kremlin’s ability to stage the type of massive display of military strength that has previously taken place at Victory Day parades is at a premium.
Additionally, concerns over security will also have persuaded the organisers to scale down the event, making it easier to prevent any acts of sabotage taking place. Only last week Moscow accused Ukraine of launching a drone attack against the Kremlin in a failed assassination attempt against the Russian leader.
Even so, Putin’s enthusiasm for maintaining Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine remains undiminished, judging by the uncompromising language of his address to the Russian nation to mark the occasion.